National Pothole Day on Monday, January 16, is not a cause for celebration but an initiative to highlight the number of defects blighting Britain’s road network.
Cyclists are particularly affected by potholes, as they can pose a serious risk of injury to the rider as well as to their bikes.
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National cycling charity Cycling UK is encouraging cyclists to report potholes in their locality via its FillThatHole online reporting tool and app, which send the location of potholes to the relevant local authority for action.
“Potholes can be more than a nuisance. They can be a danger to cyclists and others. In the UK, there’s an average of one road defect for every 110 metres of road,” says Cycling UK.
Figures published by motoring organisation RAC on Monday to coincide with National Pothole Day suggest that the number of pothole-related incidents are on the rise.
From October to December 2016, the number of RAC call-outs to potentially pothole-related incidents suffered by motorists rose by 24 per cent.
“This is a particularly worrying finding because of course much of the country has not experienced harsh winter conditions for three years and rainfall in the fourth quarter of 2016 was the lowest in that period for more than a decade,” said RAC chief engineer David Bizley.
“Rain can be the catalyst for the formation of potholes, particularly in the winter when frosts are also common but despite the low rainfall the number of pothole faults attended by RAC in Q4 2016 is still higher than in the same period in the two previous years.”
Now that the UK has experienced more severe cold weather, ice and rain, the number of potholes is likely to rise – and with it, the risk of incidents.
“If the first three months of 2017 prove to be both wet and cold, potholes are likely to appear at an unprecedented rate which would inevitably stretch local authority repair resources to their limit,” said Bizley.
“While urgent remedial repairs will be needed to reduce the risk of further vehicle damage or injury to road users, including vulnerable motorcyclists and cyclists, it is insufficient investment in preventative maintenance, such as resurfacing, which is ultimately to blame.”
The Asphalt Industry Alliance’s Local Authority Road Maintenance Report for 2016 stated that £11.8 billion would be needed to fix Britain’s roads. The report states that, on average, each local authority in England and Wales filled 12,807 potholes during 2015.